By Dave Wagner
When the Portales Lady Rams begin District 4-3A play tonight in a 7 p.m. game against Lovington at the PHS gym, they’ll be without longtime head coach Brenda Gomez.
Gomez left Thursday morning for her native Farmington to be with a sister who is seriously ill. In her absence, volunteer assistant Sharon Max will lead the Lady Rams.
Max, a former Eastern New Mexico University player, is currently doing her student teaching at PHS. She played four seasons at ENMU (1996-99, 2000-01), ranking 16th on the school’s all-time scoring list (806) and setting a single-season free throw record by shooting 100 percent (24-of-24) as a senior.
She has spent several seasons as a student assistant at ENMU, and has been with the Lady Rams’ program for about three weeks.
“We’ve talked to the girls about this situation,” she said, referring to Gomez. “The girls have really been pulling together.”
PHS (8-9) hasn’t played since thumping Roswell Goddard 64-37 at home 10 days ago, but junior forward Ashleah Richards said the Lady Rams are ready to go.
“I think the break has helped us get in better shape,” she said. “It’s (allowed) us to work on things that we needed to work on.
“Even though coach Gomez isn’t here, we know what we need to do. We’re just going to go out and do it for her, and ourselves.”
Richards said the team was aware Gomez was concerned about her sister.
“We knew a couple of days ago that she was sick,” Richards said. “When coach told us today (she was leaving), it was kind of a shock.”
Junior forward Megan Kabrick, who missed the last two games with a pulled groin muscle, will not be able to play tonight. She reaggravated the injury when she returned to practice on Tuesday.
Also, senior reserve Stefanie Sharrock has been bothered by a virus and will not dress out tonight.
“We’re not going to dwell on it,” Max said. “We’re not going to make excuses. Whoever we put out there, I have total faith in what we’re doing.”
Lovington (7-10) has played a good schedule and is coming off games against Clovis, Roswell High and Lubbock Trinity Christian. The Lady Wildcats are led by senior post Monique Perez.
“They play hard,” Max said. “They pressure you all the way up the floor.”
It’s been a long time since the Lady Rams have failed to win the district regular-season title, although they lost to Lovington two years ago in the district tournament finals here.
Max expects the Lady Wildcats and the third district squad, Ruidoso (11-7), to be worthy foes.
“The district will be a fight,” she said. “There’s not going to be an easy game for anyone.”
Portales 0-0 11-7
Lovington 0-0 10-8
Ruidoso 0-0 10-9
NMMI 0-0 3-13
Ruidoso 66, Dexter 42
Lovington at NMMI
Ruidoso at Portales
Ruidoso 0-0 11-7
Portales 0-0 10-9
Lovington 0-0 7-10
Lovington at Portales
Portales at Ruidoso